Video by Joseph Andrew Lee

If political tensions are high with North Korea, you wouldn’t know it at Camp Casey, the U.S. military base closest to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Just 11 miles south of the tense border that separates North and South Korea, troops enjoyed burgers and hot dogs with their Republic of Korea (ROK) counterparts at a USO-sponsored barbecue this spring, taking a short break from their Pacific Pathways training to enjoy the Easter holiday.

“The barbecue triggers the soldiers to come and see what’s going on,” said Pfc. Jones, of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. “The USO is a place where you can come and meet other soldiers so you can find out where they are from and what unit they are with.”

Pacific Pathways brings thousands of U.S. service members halfway around the world each year to train with allied forces in the Pacific as part of the Army’s contribution to the United States’ rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Pathways also enables the Army to commit troops to specific regions of the world to support the geographic combatant commanders.

“I’m an MWR employee and I volunteer every time the USO has a cookout,” said Fred Ware, a USO volunteer helping with the cookout on a warm, rainy day on the Korean peninsula. “It’s fun for us to come out here and mingle with the soldiers and fellowship with them to make sure they’re well fed and happy.”

– Sandi Moynihan contributed to this story.

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.